Alabama hoops star delivered gun in shooting, police say
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama basketball star Brandon Miller brought a teammate the gun that was used in a fatal January shooting near campus, an investigator testified.
Miller, a freshman standout, brought Darius Miles’ gun to him on the night of the shooting after Miles texted him and asked him to do so, Tuscaloosa Police investigator Brandon Culpepper testified, according to news outlets.
The allegation of Miller’s involvement on the night of the Jan. 15 shooting came during a preliminary hearing for Miles and Michael Davis, who face capital murder charges for the death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.
Former Tide player Miles is accused of providing his gun to Davis, who fired it and killed Harris, prosecutors say.
Alabama coach Nate Oats told reporters Tuesday the team has been aware that Miller allegedly brought Miles the gun, but the team’s leading scorer is not in “any type of trouble.” He has started every game since the shooting.
Miller was just in “the wrong spot at the wrong time,” Oats said, later clarifying what he termed his “unfortunate remarks” after receiving criticism on social media.
“We’ve known the situation,” Oats said in a news conference Tuesday. “We’ve been fully cooperating with law enforcement the entire time. I mean, the whole situation is just sad. The team closed practice with a prayer for the situation today, knowing that we had this trial today. You think of Jamea and her family,” Oats said.
Miller has not been criminally charged. A team representative did not immediately know if Miller had an attorney.
“We knew about that,” Oats said. “You can’t control everything everybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. College kids are out. Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble, nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Like the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Oats acknowledged in his later statement that those remarks “came across poorly” and sought to clarify,
“We were informed by law enforcement of other student-athletes being in the vicinity, and law enforcement has repeatedly told us that no other student-athletes were suspects,” Oats said. “They were witnesses only. Our understanding is that they have all been fully truthful and cooperative.
“In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to go out to Jamea Harris’s family.”
The 6-foot-9 Miller is the biggest star of the second-ranked Tide team that had its first AP Poll No. 1 ranking in 20 years last week. He is projected to be an NBA Draft lottery pick.
The shooting occurred on the Strip, a business district of bars and restaurants that cater to students near the Tuscaloosa campus. Harris was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when she was struck by a bullet, police said.
Investigators wrote in a court document that Miles, who had been a junior reserve forward on the team, admitted to providing the gun used in the fatal shooting, but Davis fired the weapon.
Culpepper said Tuesday that Miles told Davis where his gun was in Miller’s car.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented diverging accounts of the shooting. Chief Deputy District Attorney Paula Whitley told the judge that there was ample evidence to proceed with the case against Miles and Davis.
A defense lawyer suggested during Tuesday’s hearing that Miles was reacting defensively when he told Davis where the gun was located.
“The reason that the gun was provided to Michael Davis was for protection,” Mary Turner argued.
Defense lawyers asked for Davis and Miles to be released on bond. District Judge Joanne Jannik did not immediately issue a decision on the bond request.
Both Davis and Miles wiped away tears as their mothers’ took to the stand to testify that they would make sure their sons would follow rules if granted bond.
After court, Harris’ mother told reporters that she is frustrated by the focus on basketball when the shooting claimed the life of her daughter.
“She has a 5-year-old son that is still waiting for his mother to come home,” DeCarla Heard told reporters. “I want justice for my grandson.”